Governor: Masks required in schools

Indoor face coverings are also now mandatory for state facilities
August 10, 2021

All school children – both public and private – will be required to wear masks for the 2021-22 school year under a public health emergency order issued by Gov. John Carney Aug. 10.

“There's no higher priority than getting all Delaware children back in their classrooms full time this fall,” Carney said in a press release. “This consistent, statewide approach will help students, educators and staff return to school safely and without disruption. Vaccination remains the best way to finally put an end to this pandemic. These COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe, and highly effective against COVID-19 infection and serious illness. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, consider it. Talk to your doctor and your friends who have received their shot. That’s how we’ll keep students in classrooms and keep moving forward.”

The emergency order requiring masks to be worn inside will go into effect Monday, Aug. 16, for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade at both public and private schools, he said. 

Those in childcare homes and centers must also wear face coverings indoors, and are strongly encouraged to require masks for children 2 years old to kindergarten inside their facilities. Children younger than 2 should not wear masks due to risk of suffocation, officials said.

The statewide mask requirement in schools will be formalized later this week, Carney said. It will help all Delaware students safely return to classrooms full time this fall for the 2021-22 school year, he said, and is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children younger than 12 remain ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination at this time. ​

State employees and visitors to state facilities must also wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status, Carney said. Additional requirements around vaccination and testing for state employees and others are expected to be announced in the coming days, he said.

Carney on Tuesday also formally extended the Public Health Emergency order in place to allow the State of Delaware and medical providers to continue COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs. Under Delaware law, Public Health Emergency declarations must be renewed every 30 days. Carney issued his first public health emergency order July 12, a day before lifting the 16-month State of Emergency order. Similar to the state of emergency, a public health emergency order has the force and effect of law. So far, no penalties for violating the public health emergency have been released.

As of Aug. 9, 73.7 percent of Delaware adults, and 71.6 percent of those 12 and older, have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit for vaccination information.

Delaware GOP opposes order

The Delaware GOP opposes Carney’s public health emergency order, saying it is a decision that should be made at the local school board level.

"The governor's requirement that students wear masks in public and private schools is shortsighted and misguided, and fails to consider the negative physical and emotional impact being required to wear a mask has had on students throughout our state and this country,” said Jane Brady, chair of the Delaware Republican Party. “The decision should be made at the local school board level, where parents can have direct input into the decision.”

Vaccinations and testing are now available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 – two option unavailable when the state first required students and the public to wear masks, she said.

“Parents are not opposed to wearing masks in the schools because they don’t care about the safety of their children,” Brady said. “They are opposed because they’ve seen directly and daily the impact wearing a mask has had on their child."

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